Dreaded, stubborn belly fat. Oh my.
A wobbly tummy is a problem for many of us mums and as a result, wearing a swimsuit on holidays always feels like a daunting experience. The good news is blasting belly fat is possible, even after kids. You can attack your belly bulge with core exercises, health eating and joining The Healthy Mummy’s 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge
While the tools and plans to attack belly fat once and for all may seem relatively straight forward, the causes of excess belly fat are less so for many women.
In this article, with the help of Healthy Mummy nutritionist Cheree Sheldon, we identify 14 difference causes of excess belly fat in women.
14 different causes of excess belly fat in women
1 .Calories in vs calories out
There are many reasons why women may have excess belly fat, the main one is an imbalance with calories in and calories out. Quite simply if we consume too much food, it is stored as fat. However, most of us know when we attempt to reverse the fat, that it might not be as simple as that!
Nonetheless, knowing your BMR is a good place to start in attacking belly fat. Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the number of calories you’d burn if you stayed in bed all day.
2. Food choices
Food choices are a major impact for accumulation of belly fat. Sugar, in particular fructose, has been linked to abdominal obesity, especially when people drink soft drinks. Whether this is due to an excess of kilojoules consumed, or because the fructose slows down metabolism and fat burning doesn’t really matter, the bottom line is too much sugar is stored as fat!
When following a healthy eating plan such as the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge, you can be confident in the fact that what you are eating is helping you reduce your waistline as opposed to adding to it. The 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge is a weekly meal plan, which consists of 3 snacks and 3 main meals a day. These recipes and meals are designed to help you lose weight safely and sustainably. Learn more about the Challenge here.
3. Alcohol intake
Alcohol intake has a function in belly fat after all a beer belly didn’t get its name for nothing! The excess calories from consumption of alcohol is stored as fat, and like sugar, alcohol slows down fat burning and metabolism. Daily intake of three or more drinks, or binge drinking on four or more drinks regularly had the biggest risks.
4. Consuming ‘bad’ fats
Consuming fats. Have you heard the saying fat makes you fat?? It’s sort of true depending on the types of fats, as they are not created equal. The worst offender which everyone should avoid at all costs is TRANS FATS. These are fats that have been messed with by adding hydrogen to them. It makes them more stable so the junk food it is added to can stay on a shelf longer, but it also creates lots of inflammation in our bodies, and is linked to insulin resistance, and belly fat.
Exercise and activity plays a big part in getting belly fat off, so it makes sense that little to no exercise or activity is a big factor in putting it on. People who watch more than 3 hours of TV per day double their risk of abdominal obesity than people who watch just one hour.
6. Modern convenience
Modern convenience reduce our need to be active, so it elevates our risk for weight gain. Have you seen Wall’E?? This is our future if we aren’t mindful and reduce our dependency on technology a bit…Take the stairs!!
Ageing plays a role. Even if they don’t gain weight on the scales, many women notice an accumulation of belly fat as they age, particularly around menopausal age. This is due to hormonal shifts, when a decrease in oestrogen impacts our fat distribution, making it belly focused instead of hips and thighs.
Sleep affects our weight. For those of us who sleep poorly, five hours or less a night is linked with weight gain. Sleep disordered breathing such as sleep apnoea, is linked with higher amounts of belly fat.
Stress can cause belly fat! The body interprets any stress the same, whether it is physical stress such as smoking, or perceived stress such as driving in rush hour. The bottom line for stress in the body is the production of the hormone cortisol, and cortisol, unfortunately encourages the body to deposit more fat at our bellies. Read here how stress affects your metabolism and how to BEAT it.
10. Post pregnancy
Post pregnancy our belly changes shape. The uterus drops and the abdominal muscles shift, so it takes a while for the body to regain its muscular strength, with the subcutaneous layer of fat at the fore front until that occurs.
Check out these top tips to consider for getting started with postnatal exercise.
11. Gut bugs
Gut bugs play a part! If the balance of our gut flora is tipped to promote certain bad bacteria, they encourage us to gain weight and stimulate belly fat. This can be due to bad choices in our diet feeding bad bacteria causing SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth), resulting in bloating. The bacteria can send signals to our brains triggering cravings for carbohydrates and sugars
that they want to feed off. Pretty clever, but not too great for our waist line.
Genes can be a major factor in belly fat and obesity. You know when people say, “oh its in the genes, Aunty So And So was fat, My mum was fat, my sister is, and so I am too”, there is actually genes that are markers for obesity. A 2011 study states there are more than 40 known gene variants that are associated with obesity and fat distribution. Epigenetic markers do not mean
that you “HAVE” to be overweight, it just elevates your risk, and hopefully motivates you more to make better choices to avoid obesity.
13. What happened in the womb
Before we are born we can be set up for obesity. If your mum smoked during pregnancy or had a really poor diet, then you have a higher risk factor. Babies that are born with really low birth weights or really high birth weights have a greater chance of being overweight or obese later in life.
Women with PCOS have a higher amount of visceral fat than women who don’t have the disorder. It is unclear whether the mechanism of PCOS is from hormones promoting weight gain or weight gain promoting hormone dysfunction.
As you can see, there are many many factors that can cause excess belly fat in women.
Ultimately they boil down to a few choices, how much you exercise, what your food choices are, and how you manage stress. You can’t change your genes, you can’t slow down aging, but you can be in control of all the other factors that influence whether or not you are at greater risk for weight gain and belly fat.
Wanting to shift your belly flat, take charge of your weight and improve your overall health and fitness? Then be sure to check out our 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge!
Think of the challenge as the best value personal trainer, dietitian, meal planner, chef and motivational coach that you have access to every day – without the high cost and all created JUST FOR MUMS.
Mum of three children young children, Rae, has overcome negative self belief in the face of some very big obstacles. After losing 25kgs* and maintaining her goal weight with The Healthy Mummy 28 Day Weight Loss challenges she says:
“I am no longer the girl who suffered debilitating anxiety and regular panic attacks. The one full of excuses not to go out and enjoy life. I am now this amazing butterfly who loves her life and lives it with no worries (well far fewer, I am still a woman after all!)”.
2. Jo Hart
Jo Hart not only rocks her new bikini, she has lost 38kg* with The Healthy Mummy 28 Day Weight Loss Challenges.
She says: “I am proud of the change I have made for not only me but for my family too”.
3. Renee Harrison
Mum Renee, from Central Queensland, has overcome depression and anxiety stemming from an abusive relationship and transformed her body losing 41kgs* (from 115kgs to 74kgs) with The Healthy Mummy Smoothies, free snack recipes and portion controlled high protein meals.
She says: “previously I lived day by day, but now I embrace life as it were my last day on the earth!”.
4. Elle Temple
Smashing her weight loss goal of 25kgs* (from 83.6kg to 58.6kg) with The Healthy Mummy 28 day weight loss program, Elle now focuses on toning up. Elle says:
“today I am thankful that I am no longer afraid of having photos taken of me. I love that I have photos to look back on and am proud of how far I have come. From being ‘obese’ and having no energy to tackle my day, to being a healthy weight and being able to spring around with my crazy toddler”.
***Disclaimer: This information is to be used as a guide only. Know your own body and if constant bloating persists, we recommend you visit a physician or dietician to investigate the issue further.***